You've no doubt heard of 18 Wheeler as the token Scots branch of the Oasis family tree and very little else. But that's not really fair, since what they do now is more highbrow than eyebrow. The Wheelies have realised that saying no to Noelrock doesn't burst your pop bubble.
The Wheelies have realised that saying no to Noelrock doesn't burst your pop bubble.
"Confusion is our art," cries singer Sean at one point, and well he might. On this, their first performance with their all-new sound, 18 Wheeler throw everything at us and, thankfully, they've got a pretty good aim. They give us luscious string samples! We get stabs of jungle! Hell, they even throw in a chill-out friendly light show.
What we don't get is first-night nerves - they're way too busy with second-chance heroics for all that. That's not to say they've totally stopped their Teenage Fannying about, though, but the old copyist accusations don't matter any more because there's simply more on offer.
Somehow their performance manages to rescue even the dodgy cod-reggae mistake that is 'The Hours And The Times', and, in showstopper 'Crabs', they've adopted the wayward son of The Stone Roses' 'Begging You' and turned it into one of this year's hidden highlights.
They may not have much to say for themselves, and to be honest the likes of their ode to physical pleasures, 'Grease And Butter', are downright daft, but at least they have charm, energy and - best of all - ideas. The harmonies say Big Star, the beats say Dubstar, but 18 Wheeler really deserve to be stars in their own right. C'mon kids!
Iain Moffat, NME, 5th October 1996 - London WC1 Raw Club
I won an 18 Wheeler T-shirt on Gary Crowley's radio show once. It was grey, it didn't really fit and it always smelled a bit stale. God's gift to a critic struggling for a metaphor, but it meant zip to a kid with nothing to wear that evening.
So, tonight, I'm in a feisty little red number. And 18 Wheeler? They're in the heavens. Some catty remarks have circulated here about 18 Wheeler's new "drum'n'bass" direction. Well, a spinning-top snare sound does not a junglist make. All they've done is exploded their horizons, and they've turned the music in their heads up so that we can hear it, too. Largin' it? They've brought in the builders for a 20-storey extension, my little whistle-blowing friend.
They've exploded their horizons, and turned the music in their heads up
"This is a song about sexual intercourse," announces Sean. And, even though it lasts longer than a minute, he's got a point. "Den Dagen Den Soren" pulses straight from their heads to mine. If we're sweethearts, this beat is the sex, the bond. Which is just great because now I sound like some kind of hippy, and I hate hippies. But I hate dancing just as much and, against my better judgment, I'm doing that too.
This is the sound of a band finally getting it right after years of putting their musical shirts on the wrong way round. So often, when guitar bands "discover dance" they're trying to prove a point, but 18 Wheeler use it, not the other way around. Thus, they manage to express the yearning behind songs like "The Hours And The Times" without coming across like sniveling little wusses. They end up sounding, well, "massive". It's simple: the heart pumps, it doesn't jangle.
Robin Bresnark, Melody Maker, 12 October 1996